CHAPTER 1: DERIC
“Sam?” I looked up startled from my paper I’d been doodling on and looked at my boss, Gracie. She looked at me worriedly and I stood up straight. She looked at my paper and then at me again. “Are you okay? You haven’t really been yourself all day.” I ran my hand over my face and sighed tiredly. “Is everything okay?”
“I’m just tired.” I said quietly. She studied at me a moment, probably trying to see if I was lying or not. I closed my eyes and opened them again. “I didn’t sleep well last night.” She nodded and looked outside. “It’s been kinda dead all day, so I started doodling.”
“Well, it’s getting kinda dark out.” She looked at me and I looked outside. It sure was. “I was thinking about closing up shop early anyway. Seeming as it’s a holiday. Why don’t you go ahead and head out.”
I looked at her.
“No, it’s okay-“
“I insist.” She smiled. “Go. Get. Shoooo.” She drew it out as she waved her hands at me. I laughed a little. “Go Sam. The store will be waiting for you on Monday, just get.” I shook my head as I laughed. I went over to my time clock and clocked out, then grabbed my things from the rack in the corner. “See you Monday!” Gracie called as I headed toward the door.
“Bye!” I called back and started to head out. I wrapped my jacket around me at the burst of cold wind and looked out over the darkening parking lot. My smile quickly fell as I shuddered, the feeling of someone watching me washing over me. I wasn’t very sure I liked the thought of going home right now. Not alone anyway.
I breathed shakily and pulled out my phone. I dialed Sebastian’s number and put the phone to my ear. I waited for him to answer before I started down the steps of my home away from home, Gracies’ Book Store, and started walking home.
“I’m kind of busy right now Sam, what’s up?” Sebastian asked as he answered the phone. He sounded a little breathless and angry, and I scowled. “Hey! Give me a moment will ya? I’m talking to my sister! What is it?” I flinched at the way he said it to me, and I wasn’t sure I wanted him to come get me anymore. He sounded really angry right now. “Sam?”
“Oh.” I sighed quietly. “Sorry. I was just wondering if you would come pick me up, but never mind. I’ll walk.” Something sounded like it hit the wall or something and something broke on the other end and I scowled.
“Owch!” He yelled and I breathed shakily. What was going on over there? It really didn’t sound good on his end.
“What was that?” I asked as I stopped at the bottom of the steps. Something else broke and I jumped. “Sebastian?” I whispered. “What’s going on?” there was a laugh and it wasn’t very nice.
“I’ve got to go Sammie. I’ll call you in a bit.” Sebastian didn’t sound very happy and his voice sounded so icy that it sent a shiver down my spine. He didn’t even give me time to answer, he just hung up and I stood there looking at my phone. What in the world could be going on?
I sighed shakily and looked out over the parking lot I still hadn’t made it out of yet and shivered. I really didn’t want to be walking by myself. Talking to Sebastian, I felt better walking home by myself, but right now I really just wanted to go back inside and wait for Sebastian to get done with whatever he was doing and come pick me up.
I chewed my lip as I looked between the now completely dark parking lot, lit only by a single street light and the now dark book store.
“Home it is then.” I sighed and started walking again.
“Aren’t you a little old to be scared of the dark?” I jumped when someone spoke beside me when he walked up. I looked at him, expecting someone older, (because he sounded older) but found a young man that looked like he might be in his early twenties. I breathed shakily as he looked at me and laughed a little. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. You just looked like you might be freaking out inside and debating on whether curling up in the fetal position and all was a good idea or not, so I decided you might need a little company. I may be starting to rethink that with how scared you look right now. Are you okay?”
I wrapped my arms around myself and shuddered and closed my eyes for a second, before I opened them again and looked at the guy.
“I’m fine.” I whispered and started walking away. He stood there a second before he started following me.
“You don’t look like you are fine. You look utterly terrified.” He grabbed my arm and stopped me. I pulled my arm away and stepped back, my arms still wrapped around me and looked at him. He studied me and then finally stuck up his hands. I really didn’t want to be stuck out here right now, especially with someone I didn’t know. After last night, knowing for sure that someone was in my house, in my room, even if Sebastian didn’t believe me, I really wasn’t sure I wanted to be talking to anyone I didn’t know, because I was scared. I was scared that they would hurt me. “I’m not going to hurt you if that is what you are thinking right now.”
“I… just need to get home.” I said quietly as the wind picked up around me. I shivered and breathed out a shaky breath. I sniffed as the cold air started making my nose run and then coughed for a minute.
“If you are getting sick, I don’t think you should be outside right now.” He half smiled and I rolled my eyes. I started walking again. I really wanted to get home and warm, and away from this guy…
Even if he was trying to help me out.
“Okay, I’m going home now.” He started after me and I looked at him with a scowl. “You can stop following me now.” He looked at me with an amused smile. I groaned and stopped again. “What?” I questioned. “What do you want? My number? A date? Why are you following me?” he laughed a little.
“You’re cute, but too young.” I raised a brow at him. “You’re what, thirteen-“
“Almost fifteen thank you.” I glared at him and he raised his hands as if to say “my bad” and laughed.
“Anyway, still too young, and like I said, you looked scared.” I crossed my arms over my chest again. “I thought I’d make sure you got home safe. The night, even with how young you are, you are eye candy and there are a lot people who would do some… bad things to a girl like you.”
“As if I didn’t feel scared enough.” I muttered as I started walking again. I clenched my jaw and then stopped once more when he started following. “Look, thanks for the… help, but I can find my way on my own. I might be pathetically scared of the dark, but I’m not that pathetic.” He raised a brow at me and I threw my hands in the air. He laughed at me again “You aren’t going to stop following me are you?”
“Not until you get home no.” he answered, his smile falling. He looked like he really wanted to help, and he didn’t really look scary, but then again, serial killers blend in with regular people so who knew who I was really talking to. Sadly, even though I knew I probably shouldn’t, I trusted this tall, slightly muscular man and his dark eyes, weirdly happy smile, and he really did look like he might scare off someone who might try and hurt me on my way home. I pinched the bridge of my nose as I started to feel a headache coming on. I sighed and ran my hand through my hair as I looked at him again.
“Fine.” I said. “But you aren’t coming in.” his smile came back and he looped his arm through mine. I looked at him startled and he only smiled at me.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.” He said and I scowled. He was really chipper for someone who was “escorting” someone home at night. “Onward. Lead the way.” I shook my head and started on my way back to the house again. Sadly, (but it was a good thing at the same time) I felt kind of comfortable with him here. I felt safe and I wasn’t exactly sure that was a good thing, since I didn’t know him, but if this was going to keep me safe (and I really hoped that it did) then I guess it was okay.
“I’m Deric by the way.” He said to me as he looked down at me. I looked up at him sideways and watched him a moment before answering. Should I tell him my name? I thought to myself. I mean, after all, he is making sure that I get home safely. It was the least I could do right? I sighed and looked back at the sidewalk in front of me.
“Sam.” I said and I saw him nod and look at the sidewalk too, in my peripheral vision. We walked in silence for a moment before he looked at me again. I kept my eyes on the ground while he watched me, and it wasn’t creepy, but it was a little weird and I felt a little awkward.
“You said you were almost fifteen right?” he asked and I nodded without looking at him. “When is your birthday?” I didn’t answer. He watched me for another minute and I closed my eyes. I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable telling him anything else. “Sam… am I making you feel uncomfortable?” he asked me quietly. “Because if I am, I am not trying to and I am sorry.”
“It’s not that.” I sighed. “I mean… I just don’t know you and I am not sure I should trust you yet… even if you are making sure that I get home safe. I’m just not big into trusting people right now especially people I don’t know. Nothing against you…” I sighed again. I didn’t know how to put it.
“Can I at least ask why you were standing in the parking lot of a closed book store?” he asked.
“I work there.” I shrugged.
Slowly, I pulled my arm away from his and wrapped mine around myself again. I continued walking and he followed behind me. I still had the feeling that someone was watching me and maybe it was Deric, but it didn’t feel like it was close. I felt like it was off in the distance. I shuddered and stopped. I looked around a moment as Deric watched me carefully then looked out where I was looking, where I saw someone in the shadows…
Where I saw someone off in the distance, looking at me.
I took a small step back and ran into Deric. His hands touched my shoulders and he started pushing me onward.
“Come on, let’s get you home why don’t we.” I breathed shakily as he wrapped his arm around my shoulders and held me closer. As he did, I actually curled into his side and put my hand on his chest. I gripped his jacket tightly and he covered my gloved hand with his. “It’s okay.” He murmured and I watched the man off in the distance a moment longer as he watched me. I couldn’t really see his face, but I knew that the look he was giving me was not a pleasant one.
We rounded a corner and I was glad when I couldn’t see him anymore. I breathed shakily and shook as Deric held me close the rest of the way home.
“You okay Sam?” he asked as we walked up my front steps. I was shaking harder now and I really wanted to go inside and get into a hot shower. I was still curled up against him and I became really aware of that as we walked up the steps and the porch light came on, blinding me momentarily, and I had to pull away from Deric. I was still unsure if I should be comfortable with him yet.
I pulled out my keys, no doubt Dad and Tonya were at work right now, so I was alone, since Sebastian’s car wasn’t home yet. My hands shook as I tried to put the key in the key-hole and open the door with no luck as the keys fell from my hands. “Hey.” he turned me around and made me look at him. He took my face in his hands and they were so cold that I flinched away. It was cold outside, so I wasn’t sure why his hands were so cold against my skin when we should have been the same temperature with the wind…
Though he had had gloves on a moment ago.
I wrapped my arms around myself once more and I really wanted more than anything to be safely inside with someone there to make sure that no one could get to me.
“Where is everyone?” he asked. I looked at him quietly. “I assume you have parents or a parent or someone who takes care of you seeming as you are under age, but I don’t see a care or anything. Is anyone home?”
“My parents are p-probably at work.” I stuttered as he reached down and picked up my keys. He unlocked the door for me and then gently handed me the keys again. “M-my brother…” I trailed off as a car slowed down almost to a stop and I knew that he had seen Deric standing there and then quickly pulled into the driveway. “That would be my brother.” Sebastian got out and started toward us. He didn’t look very happy.
“Hey-“ he grabbed Deric by the jacket and slammed him into the door before I could even finish greeting him. I jumped back with a gasped and looked at my brother and then the man who’d walked me home.
“Who are you and what are you doing with my sister?” he demanded.
“Relax man, I just walked her home.” Deric answered and looked at me. He looked back at my brother. “She was walking by herself and she looked scared so I walked with her.”
“Get out of here-“
“Sebastian.” I grabbed his arm. “Sebastian, stop.” He looked at me, then back at Deric. “Sebastian, you are scaring me and I am already scared right now…” he looked at me again and then at Deric once more. He clenched his jaw and let go of Deric. He stepped back and pulled me close to him.
“Come on Sam.” He whispered as I shook and instantly curled into him. It was like an instinct he was so warm. “Let’s get you inside and warmed up, you are freezing.” Deric watched us as Sebastian opened the door and lead me in. I didn’t even get to say thank you before he slammed the door in Deric’s face.
“W-what was that about?” I asked quietly as he led me over to the couch and sat me down. I leaned into the back of it and he covered me up with a blanket. I curled up on the couch with it and he knelt down beside me. He didn’t seem angry anymore as he stroked my hair and I closed my eyes and shook. I was tired and he knew that.
“He looked at little old.” I looked at him as my teeth chattered. It seemed colder in here than it did outside and I was freezing.
“He w-walked… me h-home.” I breathed out and he sighed. He nodded and leaned forward. He kissed my head and then got up. I caught his hand and held on. He looked at me as I started to get up, but he made me lay down. “W-wh-“
“I’m just going to make you some hot chocolate and get you another blanket Little Sammie.” He said reassuringly and I nodded. He squeezed my hand and let go then left the room. I closed my eyes tightly as I waited for him to get back, which, thankfully, didn’t take long.
I felt another blanket being placed over me and I opened my eyes again. His hand brushed my cheek and he looked at me startled.
“Your skin is freezing Sammie.” He said. “Are you any warmer?” I shook my head. He sighed. He went over to the fireplace and took a moment to light it up to get some heat going in the room, then walked over to me againd. “Sit up.” Slowly, I did as he said and he sat down and unzipped his jacket. He unzipped mine too and pulled me close. He flinched at the touch of my cheek against his neck, but didn’t push me away. He pulled the blanket over us and rubbed my arms. I snuggled into his warmth and breathed shakily. I shook as he lay back against the arm of the couch and held me close, trying to get me warm again.